The Long Road Home, Chapter 6: Road to Perdition (Jasper)

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Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a work of Twilight fanfiction.

This chapter is from Jasper's POV. It picks up approximately 6 months after the end of chapter 4, in 1863 in Texas.

Chapter 6: Road to Perdition

Her eyes were like flaming coals in the darkness as she smiled at me, her teeth glinting in the faint glow from the few stars weakly shining down on us. The night was fading. Her scent drifted toward me on the cool summer pre-dawn breeze, cinnamon and cloves and eucalyptus, as well as the scents of the desert, stone and dust and dried grass and creosote, all wrapping me like a warm blanket. I crouched down, waiting, watchful.

I took a deep breath, inhaling all the scents around me, my skin vibrating with the sensation of movement from the others as they surrounded me. I could just barely see them as they circled me, but I could keenly feel their animosity, their determination to rip me limb from limb, as if they were my own emotions; I could hear their eager breathing and their low-pitched growls and hisses, and hear their feet shuffling through the dry summer grass as they tried to flank me.

"Make me proud, Jasper," Maria murmured huskily, and chuckled, drawing back into the darkness. "Make me proud." I heard the whisper of her skirts as she retreated.

She was leaving me alone with them all, to see whether I would triumph or fail.

My whole body tensed, freezing into the utter and complete stillness that I was so familiar with now, the state of total sensory awareness that enabled me to analyze everything going on around me, to respond properly.

Even as hyper-aware as I was, focused on my surroundings, my mind was still capable of wandering.

Despite my earlier despair and horror at what I had become, I had adapted well to my new...life. I suppose "life" is the only word one could use to describe my existence, although I knew I was technically more dead than alive in most people's estimation.

Maria had made me what I was. She had taken me from the life I had known and condemned me to this...existence as this strangely beautiful and horrifying creature that I saw whenever I looked into a mirror...which didn't happen often anymore. It shook me to my core, to see my eyes red as blood, my skin so glitteringly pale, my face so different than it had been before.

I had to admit, though, that the strength and speed and heightened senses were thrilling. I exulted in all of those things, the natural huntsman and soldier in me breaking free of the restraints my humanity had imposed on me before and taking over in fierce glory. I was now a fighting, hunting, killing machine, and it was glorious when the frenzy took me, the sheer abandon of it.

Maria had told me upon waking from the burning hell of the transformation that I was now immortal, that I was something that was usually called a "vampire." I had never heard the word before; raised by no-nonsense Protestant parents in the wilds of Texas, I hadn't been exposed to much superstition, and that was before Bram Stoker wrote his famous tale of the vampire Dracula and popularized the idea of us, as erroneous as the myths were about our weaknesses. Although the idea of living forever was reassuring in some ways, the fact that I was no longer the me that I had been for my entire life was truly and profoundly disturbing at the times when I allowed myself to dwell on it. My mind was so vast and clinical now, and the thirst...Well, the thirst was profoundly disturbing, too.

But how I loved the taste of human blood.

I was ashamed of it deep down, but I pushed the shame aside at the first scent of blood. The heat of it pulsing through the veins of my prey was like a drug to me, causing the venom to well sweet in my mouth, my breath coming faster in anticipation, my body responding instinctually...

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